Tell us a bit about yourself (name, location, affiliations, personal stuff).
My name is Susan Angebranndt and I live in Burlingame, California, with my husband Harold and our cat. I have a degree in math and have spent much of my life programming computers. I’m the nerdy one in my family–my mom is a music composer, one sister is a cellist and the other is a baker. In 1999 my friend Cathy gave me a bookmaking class at the San Francisco Center for the Book as a Christmas present. It was a two-day workshop and I was so excited after the first day that I stayed up almost all night devising the content for the book we were making. In short order I was making books in small editions and learning how to deal with glue (it gets everywhere–on the pages, the covers, in my hair…). In 2002 I bought my first letterpress printer and started printing poetry books from my spare bedroom. I bought a larger press in 2003 and worked out of a little corner in the garage. Last summer I took a big plunge and rented studio space so I could finally spread out and buy more vintage (well, read that as “old, broken and cranky”) equipment. This year I’ve stopped taking new programming jobs and am working almost full time as a printer and bookbinder.
What is the first thing you can remember making by hand? How and why did you make it?
A snowman with my Dad. After that I remember my Mom asking me to draw some pictures of cows, which she entered in a contest run by a local dairy and I won a little charm bracelet (I still have it).
What inspires you? Where do your ideas come from?
Signage. I love letters, type, letterforms, words. I have to be careful when I’m driving that I don’t get too entranced by billboards, bumper stickers, and shop signs.
What are your favorite materials?
Type, ink, paper. I’m constantly experimenting, which is a source of delight, frustration, learning and ideas for my work.
What have been the most valuable lessons learned from other artists on Etsy?
I like to read the forums. As a consultant working from home for more than 10 years, I’ve found that working alone can be isolating. The Etsy forums have made me feel part of a bigger world as well as providing a source of inspiration, suggestions, and hints for every aspect of running my shop and creating my art.
Why should people buy handmade?
Because handmade items have the touch of the maker. There’s love and care in every piece. Even pieces that are editioned are unique in some little way. And isn’t it wonderful and special to own something no one else can own?
What features/services would you most like to see on Etsy?
Dealing with lots of orders is cumbersome: keeping track of who’s paid, who’s got an echeck I have to wait for, convos, buyer notes, getting the right shipping address, tracking inventory…. While I’m certainly not a top seller, I do get a bit overwhelmed. It would be great to have some tools in place to streamline the back-end of our shops.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I take ballet and jazz class several times a week, run websites for several nonprofits, teach letterpress at the San Francisco Center for the Book, and edit a quarterly journal on the book arts called Ampersand. My husband and I own a vintage race car that we both race on local area tracks. We own several other old cars that require a lot of love and care but are a kick to drive.
Read any good books lately?
”The Yiddish Policemen’s Union” by Michael Chabon.
“Reading Like a Writer” by Francine Prose.
In ten years I’d like to be…
Thirty years ago I had left home for college, 20 years ago I was managing a team of software developers, 10 years ago I took a year off to train for a long-distance bike ride, and this year I’m printing limited-edition letterpress prints. Whatever I am in 10 years, it’ll be a great adventure getting there.